Indiana vs Michigan State: Defense Is Key For Must-Win Game


Oct 24, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio and Indiana Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson talk on sidelines prior to a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson need his Hoosiers to pull off the unthinkable. They need to upset #7 Michigan State in East Lansing on National television.

Indiana versus Michigan State is more than a battle for the Old Brass Spittoon, bragging rights, or a conference rivalry. This is even more than a chance for Indiana to upset a top-10 program. This is all about pride. Not just for the players, but for Kevin Wilson himself. He has yet to get that signature win that announced they have finally arrived. No more moral victories or positive spins, a win is needed and it’s needed now.

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After a 4-0 start, Indiana has fallen to 4-3, 0-3 in B1G Conference play. Injuries and poor coaching decisions have beset the Hoosiers in the past three weeks. Facing the #7 Spartans in East Lansing will be their toughest test of the season. Going 4-4, 0-4 could completely derail this team from a team morale perspective and destroy a season that showed much promise. Indiana must win now to save their season.

If Indiana wants to win their defense must go on the attack. Whether this requires an all-out blitz scheme or the use of stunts and twists in the front-seven, it does not matter. Going 4-4, 0-4 is not acceptable and could completely derail this team.

Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer said the Hoosiers were a team heading to a bowl game after nearly being upset by Indiana three weeks ago. Looking at Indiana now, that possibility is not as good as it once was.

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Though unlikely, it’s not unfathomable that Indiana could pull off the upset on the road. It has been 9 years since Indiana has defeated the Spartans. Indiana is overdue and has every reason to go after Connor Cook. After all, they were 19 yards away from upsetting the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes. So how can they do it? Indiana must attack with a vengeance.

Offensively, Nate Sudfeld needs to stay healthy and distribute the football to his receivers with a quick strike mentality. Sudfeld needs an accurate and surgical performance against the Spartan Defense. Pounding the rock with Jordan Howard and Devine Redding should keep their offensive attack balanced enough to keep Sparty guessing. The good news for Indiana today is that Jordan Howard is warming up in pregame activities and should have a strong performance as long as his ankle holds up.

Defensively, Nick Mangieri and Zack Shaw must get in the backfield early and often. The Hoosiers have to create pressure on Connor Cook and force him to become uncomfortable in the pocket. If Indiana can keep the pressure up for 60 minutes they can afford their offense more opportunities by forcing Cook to make mistakes.

The Indiana secondary has flashed some opportunistic moments by jumping the receiver’s routes. Today they must rely on deflecting passes away more so than risk giving up a big play because they whiff on an interception. This game will truly test Indiana’s defensive coordinator Brian Knorr. His defensive strategy is pivotal in Indiana’s bid for an upset today.

Check back for more Indiana Hoosiers coverage following the game here at Ink On Indy!

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